I can be witty.
I can be as calm as a cucumber but I can never be peaceful on the inside and that is what writing helps me with – being peaceful. It is an outlet for all the emotions crammed in my 15-inch heart. Growing up I would keep things stored inside of me because I feared that once I shared them with others I may never get them back, but little did I know that was actually the whole point. Who wants to harbour negative stories anyway, so let me tell you this one first…
When I was about 21 I “temporarily” moved into a shared house in Woodstock, Cape Town.
There were about four rooms, one kitchen, a matchbox-sized sitting room area and two bathrooms.
I retrospect I think I may have overstayed my welcome time there primarily due to those bathrooms. The shower heads were like the Victoria Falls, even though I was surrounded by filth they always did a good job cleaning a girl up. Some days I would sit under the running water with my kinky hair tied into Bantu knots and let the tears flow down into the drain hole. The house was old, had some fuzzy historic background and the management was very, very strange. I recall the owner’s granddaughter so vividly. She had so many problems that compared to her I came off as a saint. She did not like her raven black curly hair so in the night she would spend at least two hours straightening it and the smell of singed hair would fill the whole room like flood. I could never understand it.
How come she did not enjoy washing her hair like I did?
Anyway, as I was saying, the room had about 6 bunk beds, all unstable so when one person tossed and turned one two many times, we all moved with her. The glossy floorboards were broken so whatever you dropped you could count as swallowed up by the earth. I remember this one day I only had R6 for taxi fare and one coin fell into those holes, I ended up not going to college. I was so bleak.
The windows croaked on windy nights which was almost every night because the house was stationed on top of a hill overlooking the seaside. Each morning I would undo the plastic strips used to tie the hinges together, let the cool breeze in and watch ship making their way to the dock longing to hear the fisherman’s stories about being at sea.
My late father spent his early 30s in Woodstock, Cape Town so you can imagine my near elated feeling when I was overlooking the dock. I could see what he saw and possibly enjoy the sounds that once travelled through his ears. I always liked that thought.
I stayed in that house for about 2 years learning people and their behaviour trying to find one that matched my own. It is quite bizarre now that I think about it – searching for your own identity amid the most broken. I could never imagine myself as broken so I thought I wanted to make a change within those people but little did I know I was piercing myself with their double-edged stories. No wonder I hate suspense movies.
Having lived in many other spaces, with fewer people, I realized a few things about personal space.
In most areas, you find that there is no such thing as personal space, a good example is shacks. I hate shacks. In a shack an average of 5 people could be residing in that space and it’s all good until you realize it isn’t. It is not okay to live without proper sanitation, to live in fear due to crime within the depths of poverty. Even though my words lack a lot, I always hoped to share my experiences to others, in turn rid my heart of things I never want to see again like that house.
Okay, that’s one story down.
Next time I will tell you about the time I slept on the street.